The First Days of Camp Kick Off with an Inspiring Fireside

Camp has started off as smooth as ever!  The sun was even shining for much of Friday although today is pretty darn wet and stormy. But we got through it with a fun music lunch that went into rest hour!

But speaking of Friday, Friday Night Fireside continued to be an inspiring event for the entire camp.

At Fireside, we talked about the 10 magical expectations for how we treat each other. We spoke about and reminded our campers that the lands we occupy were once the lands of indigenous peoples. We therefore must remember to have respect and thank the original community that inhabited these lands.

Our wonderful speakers at Fireside for CAMP IS, truly inspired us all. Here are some quotes from our speakers, all campers that came to Manitou for the first time last summer except for one; starting with freshkids and moving up to our oldest campers:

 

“One of my favourite activities was the Candy Olympics.  I love camp because of all the new friends you make and I love camp because of all the new activities you get to try.  One of my favourite cabin activities was when we were spies and had many different missions”.

 

“At first I was worried about coming to this new place and not knowing anyone and I was worried about being homesick . It didn’t take long to get to know the awesome guys in F3 and soon I started to feel comfortable and then the fun began…I never would have imagined I would make such great friends….the counsellors I had were awesome…if you are homesick I recommend you share your true feelings with your counsellors as they are really good at helping you out and making you feel better.”

 

“When I first got to camp last year I was very nervous, I missed home and I was worried about a lot of things, but these feelings soon went way…everyone in my cabin was so nice and welcoming… Although I was scared, camp became one of the greatest parts of my life….I can’t tell you how lucky I am feel to have the privilege to spend my summer in such an incredible place with so many incredible people as I know that there are many kids who cannot and will never be able to experience what we do here. Remember that all we really need and what is important is each other!!  Our memories and friendships will last a lifetime.”

 

“I have been waiting to come back here since the day I left. I am so excited to see all my friends from last year. Camp to me is meeting new people from different parts of the world…spending days and nights with friends, laughing a lot and being outdoors.”

 

“I chose to come back to camp because I made so many amazing friends and had so much fun at the activities.  I instantly had sooooo many friends and they are all very nice.  Last year I tried two new activities which became my favourites.  I am really excited for this year and I am sure you are too.”

 

“Hola, Amigos. I was really nervous for the first days out of home, alone, in a different country.  I have great news for you.  At Manitou you only need to say hi to someone and they will become your friend.  In the city you have to deal with so much stress, everybody telling you how to dress and what to do at school, but here, Manitou disconnects you from the outside world.  For example, normally you spend a lot of time looking at screens or thinking I can get more followers on Instagram, Facebook, etc., but at Manitou, you don’t have to worry about school, homework, or technology. The food here is incredible…I hope this will be your happiest summer ever!”

 

“A year and a half ago I decided to try sleepover camp for the first time.  I was nervous about spending a whole month away from my family and spending it with mostly girls I had never met before.  Many kids have come to camp for years and years and I was worried I wouldn’t fit in with them, so deciding to go to camp was a big decision to make, but I am so glad I did. But when I got off the bus I was overwhelmed with the amount of spirit and enthusiasm of all the campers while greeting their counsellors.  I went home with a million unforgettable memories with old and new friends. I can now look back and say that last summer was the best summer of my life, thanks to Manitou. For me, I learned not to judge anything before experiencing it for myself.”

 

And from an old timer – “my first summer I flew without my parents for the first time and traveled for almost nine hours to an unknown place. I was scared and nervous to say the least.

However, upon my first arrival it felt like home.  I was greeted by a tunnel of smiling faces …when I recall these incredible seven years it is the people I was with that made those years so special…Over the next seven years I would go on to make unbelievable memories as well as friendships. I only hope that any camper struggling with being in a new environment or being away from home can find a home at Manitou because Camp Manitou is truly like a second home.

 

How fortunate are we that our campers often say it best!

Staff Training is Preparing Us for the Best Summer Ever!

Everyone knows that all summer long we say it’s the “Best summer ever.” Well, this year we clearly have one of the most dedicated, kindest group of staff you will ever find.  The old-timers keep coming up to us remarking on how the new staff are just such good people and fit in so well.  The new staff are saying how easy it is to integrate with the old.  To be honest, this is often the case, but this year it’s at a whole new level and we are so excited!

Once again, discussions in pre-camp have covered everything from how to create a culture of respect to sessions on bullying, inclusion, homesickness, first-aid training, health and wellness, risk management, rules, policies, emergency procedures, supervision, leadership, programming, activity scheduling, team building, staff role modeling, how to instill gratitude in children, safe play, what makes an exceptional counsellor, discipline versus punishment, the value of canoe tripping, typical behavior and expectations of campers, as well as about fifteen other topics.

Each year we also emphasize a few areas and so we concentrated a little more on counsellor training with respect to raising your voice, getting frustrated, as well as challenges with today’s youth in respect to mental illness and of course anxiety.

Our session on role modelling, really hit home when we played examples of typical music that kids listen to today and the challenges we have with what is permitted in daily life.

Mike Levinsky was our guest speaker this year. He did an interactive session on positive reinforcement.  He showed in a humorous, but meaningful session that if you ask someone to do a simple task in a positive way, it takes two minutes to complete, but if you ask in a negative way it takes six or seven.  He also did a “tableau” role play workshop teaching staff not to label their campers and look for the best in all of them. The staff said it was one of the highlights of their staff training! Mike also had the entire staff dancing with fun routines illustrating how you can make any task fun for your kids, even cleaning up!

Tuesday at Manitou featured an incredible day of professional development. First-Aid training was spearheaded by Shendy’s own Eric Shendleman, who spent the day on First-Aid and CPR. Then the fun truly began with Sandy Foster, who once again did an incredible session about how not to just accept a good idea or program, but to challenge yourself to take it to the next level.

We could go on forever, but let us end off with some wonderful words from a long time staff member who spoke to our staff team and said this:

This summer will be my tenth year at Manitou. Over my first nine years I have been to camp for a total of 12 months, an entire year. This year of my life has been the most important and significant in developing as a person and becoming a leader at camp and back home…Being a staff member is very different than being a camper.  As a camper you basically only worry about triple tuck and getting basketball and ski on your schedule.  Things change when you become a staff member. You develop a leadership role at camp and are in charge of delivering the campers the summer of their lives.  Being a camper is fun but being a staff member is rewarding.  Seeing the growth and happiness of your campers is what makes your summer and theirs that much better.

For the first year staff it’s a hard and quick transition to make but as the closet people in age to the campers, it’s important to reason with the kids, build connections with them and develop trust through friendship. For the new staff members, camp is nothing you would expect.  Bring whatever leadership traits and positivity you have to camp.  Furthermore, there is a need for respect and trust in order to do a good job.  As well, your cos, fellow staff, Unit heads and head staff will help you transition and succeed on the job.   You will make the best friends in the cabin with your new cos and campers that will last forever.

To me, Camp gets better every year… And as staff members it’s important that we all give the kids the summer we had when we were campers and go home with no regrets on doing so.

How we could have the most positive beginning to camp after our eight days of pre camp training is actually remarkable considering we have had the worst weather since we started 19 years ago.  The good news is that this staff appear to be so resilient, as nothing gets in their way.

It may be a bit damp and cold but the staff training is warming us all up!

After three days of head staff training, the rest of our counsellor team arrived at camp on Saturday and we can already see that the staff of 2017 are going to be as incredible as ever.

One of our staff members from Mexico spoke today during our talk on “rules and what it means to be a professional.”

This is what he had to say:

“Last year was my first year on staff and I enjoyed it a lot.  I realized that being around kids, seeing how they enjoy camp and observing how they grow in so many aspects is a beautiful experience.  Camp makes this happen, and allows kids to be more independent and make them better kids in general.

I saw many campers, each different with diverse objectives, challenges and great moments.  This whole process is fascinating and satisfying.  For example, when one camper got up for the first time while waterskiing, it was so rewarding.

Camp is about respect and tolerance and letting each child develop his or herself without questioning from others.  This is a very rewarding job! You will enjoy it so much.”

Manitou is more than camp or a summer community. It is a big special family that transforms and improves people, from freshkids to staff at all levels and as part of this, true friendships are formed.

Jeff and Mark did their welcome at the Manitou Swim fire pit as staff arrived yesterday discussing their vison for camp and the five themes of the summer. That lead to a mini colour war set up for the staff so they could all get to know each other a little better while enjoying some fun games.

Today the staff joined Chris and Mark after their swim checks for an interactive session on how to be the best counsellor possible. This session used actual examples of typical camp scenarios with staff acting out the various roles. That was followed by Elijah’s very powerful session on bullying. The Unit Heads also met with the counsellors and the Activity Heads met their activity staff and of course we reviewed our emergency procedures too!  It’s been busy. Well gotta go to Sandy’s session on creative programming for cabin groups.

Until next time!

Manny

Friday Night Fireside with Spencer West

HERE is a link to a presentation from Spencer West, but first, read on…

Every Friday night Manitou gathers together at Fireside, a special and tranquil place in camp. Fireside is the place where we reflect on all of the aspects that make our camp community so incredibly special. The tone is set each Friday night for the week, allowing all of us as one united community to feel gratitude for our summer experience together.

Every week we honor campers who have stood out within camp as the ultimate positive role models as they uphold the Manitou values and standards. These campers are a combination of ones who have grown up here as well as first time campers. We celebrate these campers for their kindness, courage and empathy.

This week, following our candle ceremony, the Senior units talked about our summer theme ‘redefining possible’.   One courageous camper discussed his personal challenge with the medical condition Tourette’s. He said, “I managed to overcome thanks to the support for me, redefining possible wasn’t something I achieved, it was thanks to everyone that I knew.”

Another camper spoke about Fear being something that you choose. There is the F-E-A-R, which is ‘Forget Everything And Run’ or F-E-A-R which is ‘Face Everything And Rise’. He used F-E-A-R to discuss our fundraising efforts this summer and the support that we would be providing by raising money for the ‘Amani Home’ in Tazania.

Next we spoke about a child who has been helped by the ‘Amani Home’. Holding up the picture of this 8-year old girl really made it clear for all of Manitou how this charity saved her, and others like her, from a life on the streets. Manitou campers clearly understand how they can make a difference in the world by helping out others less fortunate than themselves.

Spencer West joined our Fireside and spoke to us about ‘Redefining Possible.’ This was something we have been trying to get Spencer to do for years. Spencer started speaking eight years ago for ‘Me to We’ / ‘Free the Children’ but he has never spoken to a camp before. Spencer has no legs and was told that he would never be able to take care of himself or lead a life with purpose. He climbed Mt Kilimanjaro and raised over $500,000 defying the odds and redefining possible. His story was truly inspirational. He did say that climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was something he would never do again, yet something that changed his life forever.   But what was most interesting was hearing that it was his support system that has allowed him to live such a fulfilling life; this echoed what our camper said earlier.

The Senior unit wrapped up Fireside with a beautiful song about making a difference in the world. In keeping with Fireside tradition, we read our special Manitou Poem and then ended with our wonderful Camp Song.

You can sense the positive energy around camp as we wrap up Community Week and enter our last week of our 2016 summer. Everyone seems to be taking advantage of every moment left at camp this summer. It is also apparent that Spencer West’s words, our goal of raising $10,000 for the Amani home, and campers redefining their possible has giving the strength to our Manitou community to make their summer end on a positive note. Having perspective, and taking stalk of how fortunate we are, allows our community to simply be better human beings.

HERE is a link to a presentation from Spencer West

How To Write A Proper Letter To Your Child At Camp

Who doesn’t love receiving a letter?  There is nothing better than opening up mail, seeing the handwriting and the personal touch that goes with every word and thought.  The key to a good letter is that its descriptive and starts off letting your child know how lucky they are to be at camp. To indicate you are so proud of them and that you want to hear all about their stories, activities and adventures.  The key is asking lots of questions that lead the child to think about the wonderful things that camp offers. That means asking about their friends, the staff, the activities, their favourite meal, etc.  There is a big difference between saying have you made friends and what is the food like versus saying “what is your favourite meal so far and is there anyone you have become friendly with yet?   Talking about home is fine if it’s positive news only but don’t talk about all the fun things at home for obvious reasons.  The key is to think – “Am I writing anything in this letter that my child is unable to do anything about and will make them upset or worry.”  If your child is not a first time camper or a bit older you may want to discuss their goals for the summer in terms of skills or leadership. When closing off,  it’s not a great idea to say you miss them because it can make them feel guilty for being there. Instead a simple “I love you so much and wish I was as lucky as you to be at camp”.

Camp Manitou hosts Variety Village

Yesterday we kicked off our community week.  It was an incredible day that inspired campers to start many wonderful initiatives.  We also had an incredible Fireside which the Senior Unit organized and put together.

To help kick off community week, we had four incredible visitors, Chris, Melissa, Robert an Cheryl from Variety Village.  Variety Village is dedicated to people of all abilities.  It is a place to get fit and have fun. Anyone can become a member of Variety Village it is the most inclusive and family-friendly fitness, sports and life skills facility in Toronto.

While at camp, the team from Variety Village, organized, hosted and participated in various adapted activities with our Counsellors-in-Training (CITs), our first year Senior Boys and Girls and our campers who were signed up for basketball Day 1, Period 5.  Campers participated in multiple wheelchair basketball games.  The kids loved playing in the wheelchairs. They were amazed at how fast they could turn in the chairs.  The only difference in wheelchair basketball is the double dribble rule, which the campers adapted to quickly.  Wheelchair basketball was a huge success!

In addition to wheelchair basketball, Variety Village organized seated volleyball.  Campers participated at seated volleyball, which is the same as volleyball, with the obvious exception being that participants sit.  Campers found this game to be incredibly exciting and challenging.  They enjoyed playing with the seated volleyball ball which is slightly larger than the volleyballs that they are used to playing with.  Many campers fell over while attempting to reach the ball.  It was very funny to watch and fun to play!

The third activity that Variety Village ran with our campers was guided walks.  Robert, a competitive swimmer from Variety Village who has been blind since he was four years old, had a question and answer session with our campers where they asked him questions about the use of his seeing-eye-dog ‘Spoken’, and other insightful questions about himself.  After the question and answer session, Robert and his mother Cheryl, demonstrated to the campers how you would lead a blind person around on a guided tour and what good directions would sound like.  Then Robert paired up with campers and had them lead him on a tour and other campers led their friends on tours while their friends kept their eyes closed.  This was a great exercise for our campers who all really appreciated Robert and Cheryl’s honesty and guidance.

At Fireside, we continued with our incredible theme for the summer, ‘If you are judging everything you are learning nothing’.  There were several senior unit campers who spoke about their experiences at camp and with judging.  One of the senior girls started by saying that there is an interesting story about when you are born, you have a blank soul.  Supposedly, each new person you meet, you gain a piece of their soul and they gain a piece of yours.  “If you judge someone and don’t take the time to get to know them, then not only do you miss out on teaching someone something new, but you also miss out on learning something new.” Another senior girl said, “Camp has taught me to always be open minded and to accept everyone. I am so grateful for that because I am proud to call the girls I was with in Freshkids to every single girl that has joined the cabin since, my best friends.”

Other perspectives on judgement were also given in speeches from some of the senior boys.  One camper said, “Camp is a place where friends and memories are made.  If you judge everything, it puts a big wall up and stops you from making those friends, or making a certain memory, and in the end you will have more friends and better memories if you don’t judge anything.”  Another camper spoke about judging people and said, “If you spend your life judging you won’t be able to see what something is about.  When you judge, you close yourself off from true information about something.  That is why it is important to keep an open mind and learn what people have to offer.”

The senior boys and girls sang ‘Try’ by Colbie Caillat.  The song consisted of the lyrics “Take your make-up off, Let your hair down, Take a breath, Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don’t you like you?, ‘Cause I like you.”  The song was really great and continued with our summer theme.

Our guests from Variety Village spoke at Fireside.  Melissa introduced Variety Village to campers who didn’t have a chance to come to basketball to meet them.  Chris then spoke a little about the programs that Variety Village offers, but also commented on how much love, kindness and respect she had seen throughout her short visit from Camp Manitou’s campers and staff.  Finally Robert spoke to the Manitou community about his experiences at Variety Village and his life’s journey.  Robert at the age of four went for surgery because of a brain tumour he had.  When he awoke from the surgery, his vision was completely gone.  He explained to everyone what it was like to walk into a room and then into another and turning on lights but not being able to see anything and the fear and confusion he experienced.  He also told the campers about all of his accomplishments.  Robert competes in swimming competitions, goes racecar driving, goes climbing and has even gone skydiving.  Robert really highlighted to our campers and staff that he was still able to take part in every activity that anybody else could as long as the activity could be adapted to meet his specific needs.

We are so grateful to everyone who came from Variety Village and all of the staff who worked with us from Variety Village to make yesterday happen and a success.

Read more: Colbie Caillat – Try Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Thursday Morning Fun Inspires the ‘Manitou Cares’ spirit!

This morning was an epic Thursday morning at Manitou.   We had two groups of amazing Leaders in Training (LITs) running excellent programs for our younger campers. The LITs were asked to think of fun engaging activities for younger campers that linked to our Manitou Cares themes.

Our first group of LITs decided to run an arts and crafts project with younger campers where our campers got to decorate hearts for Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and write inspirational messages of hope, love and support.  Many campers turned out to create these heart-felt crafts.  Messages on the hearts included, “Manitou hopes you get a better future! We care”, “Never give up! Be brave! Keep Calm and Smile! Luv you!”, “Holland Bloorview stay strong!” and “Smile! Happy looks great on you!” The LIT girls and the campers together made over forty-five hearts to mail off to Holland Bloorview.  We are so proud of our LITs and our campers.  This was such a thoughtful crafts project that really focused on giving back and looking out for others.

Our second group of LITs are two gentlemen who had great success at the beginning of the summer running a 3-on-3 basketball tournament and decided because of popular demand to run another tournament.  Like last time, the boys wanted to raise awareness for ‘Kids in Camp’.  For every participant who signed up for the tournament and participated, camp donated money to KIC.  The tournament this morning had over thirty campers come out to participate.  What impressed the LITs though more than anything was what the 3-on-3 team from cabin B20 decided to do.  After being told that the team from B20 was the winners and that they won an ice-cream party for themselves and their cabin, the boys on this team asked to forgo their ice-cream party and donate whatever the costs would be for the party to Kids in Camp on their behalf.  The LITs running the tournament, as well as everyone else on the basketball court was incredibly impressed by this generous spirit and inspired by the message of putting the needs of others ahead of your own.  Great example to set for everyone in camp B20!

We are so proud of the success of both of these programs.  They truly reflected our Manitou Cares missions and values.  Keep up the great work LITs and Campers!

Manitou Cares Senior Unit Soap Box Race

Yesterday was a very exciting day for the seniors at Manitou.  The entire unit was surprised this morning when word broke of a very special afternoon they were in store for, they were told to ‘book off’ the entire afternoon but were not given much more detail than that.  When the seniors arrived at the field there were eight different tents with wooden crates inside of them and on top of each crate lay a screwdriver.

Kailee (our director of all Manitou-Cares events (amongst many other things!) alongside Joel from Spirit Entertainment introduced himself to the seniors and let them know that they would be working in cabin groups to build, decorate and race classic ‘soap-box’ ‘go-karts’. The coolest part was that each kart had been assigned a charity or cause that Camp Manitou supports throughout the year.  Each cabin was given a ‘bio’ about their charity or cause which included Manitoucamp Foundation, Red Door Family Shelter, Soup Sisters, North York Harvest Food Bank, Holland Bloorview Kid’s Rehabilitation Hospital, Variety Village, Camp Oochigeas, and ‘Kids in Camp‘.

The seniors were given no instructions on how to build the soap box cars, they were assigned various roles in their cabin and assembled the soap-box cars together as a team.  The signs made to decorate the cars corresponding with the various cars were awesome.  The enthusiasm running through camp-house field was contagious and many younger campers came out to watch.  With a model that was constructed prior to the arrival of the seniors on the field, the seniors saw how to construct the soap box cars and assembled all 170 parts into eight different ‘soap-boxes’.

We are so proud of our senior unit!  They worked incredibly well within their cabin groups to complete a difficult challenge.  Their hard work paid off as they enjoyed racing their cars against the other cabins’.  In the end, the B-15 Boys who represented the ‘Soup-Sisters’ charity (who they made soup for just last week that went to the Parry Sound women’s shelter) were victorious and Manitoucamp foundation made a donation in their honor!  Well done all senior campers and staff!

Chris Hendricks rocks fireside!

Last night, Manitou welcomed a very musically talented and inspirational visitor to our Friday night fireside. Chris Hendricks, and his manager Aaron Gallagher made the long journey from North Carolina to Manitou yesterday. Chris, is an incredible singer/songwriter but more importantly he is an inspiration to all of us because he is able to pass on a message that is so important and powerful. Chris’ message is related to our theme of the summer – ‘If you are judging everything, you are learning nothing.’

Chris has made it his goal to teach young people how to break down barriers, have faith in themselves and make sure that they don’t let anyone else ever pull them down. At the age of four, Chris was diagnosed with, cerebral palsy. Chris was bullied because of this condition from the time that he was four until he was eighteen. Now, at twenty-nine years of age, Chris is occasionally still bullied, thankfully though he has developed enough confidence and self-appreciation to not allow the negativity of others to effect his feelings of himself. With his motto of “you do you,” Chris has come to the realization that nobody can make him feel bad about himself without his consent.

Mark said at our very first fireside of our 2015 summer, “often it is the people who nobody imagines, who do the things nobody could imagine was possible”. Chris Hendricks didn’t imagine when he was a young boy that he would be a famous speaker and musician – yet here he was, at Camp Manitou, speaking to our camp community, spreading his message of hope and perseverance and singing beautiful and inspiring songs. Chris asked everyone if they had heard the expression ‘seeing is believing’.  He then went on to inform us that the expression is wrong, “believing is seeing!” It wasn’t until Chris believed in himself, in his talent, in his abilities and his endless possibilities that he was able to get out there, accomplish his goals, and see the person he always wanted to be.

Chris performed some of his own songs and told the Manitou community about his struggles with people judging him, with being bullied and with people underestimating him. Chris moved many campers and staff members to tears with the stories of his struggles in relationships, and the hardship he faced looking to fit in.  Hearing Chris play and listening to his stories was an incredible and motivational experience that was like no other.

In addition to the incredible performance and messages from Chris, Our Junior Unit delivered motivational speeches at last night’s fireside.  One camper’s speech included the idea that “when you use social media you judge people without even knowing it… instead of judging someone, try to find the message they’re trying to send first.” At Manitou, we are away from social media for two months and have the opportunity to talk “face to face” and engage in conversation. There is the notion that at camp we are “separated from the world” because of our lack of social media, however this separation actually makes us “10 times closer to the world” and the community around us.

Another Junior Camper said she picked Camp Manitou as her camp because she liked the values. Values like “acceptance, treating everyone with equal respect and not judging others.” She compared friendships at Manitou to friendships at school and said “At school, people may judge you for how you act or for what you look like.  At camp, you are not judged for any of that; rather you are just accepted for who you are.” Her message concluded with “Being in a cabin with so many different kinds of people, it’s important to remember that our differences are what make us closer.  One of the things I love most about Manitou is that differences are not just tolerated, but celebrated and embraced.”

A group of Junior campers performed the Hannah Montana Song “Nobody’s Perfect,” which was a great choice of song in continuing with our theme for the summer.  The song includes the lines, “Next time you feel like it’s just one of those days, when you can’t seem to win, if things don’t turn out the way you planned, figure something else out, don’t stay down, try again.  Everybody makes mistakes, everybody has those days.”

Today Chris spent the morning with our rock and guitar campers actually crafting a new song together and performed it for lunch…the song is brilliant and the campers took great pride in being such a vital part of the process.

This past 24 hours at Manitou was real, emotional, and so inspiring.  A huge special thank you to Chris Hendricks and the Junior Unit campers and staff for making it an evening and morning we will never forget.

Manitou LITs go to CNIB Lake Joe

Yesterday we took thirty of our oldest campers, the Leaders-in-Training (LITs), to Canadian National Institute for the Blind’s Lake Joseph Camp. The LITs went on this incredible day trip to learn how people with different abilities function and enjoy their summers at camp and also how to adapt many of the activities we do at Manitou for people with different needs.  

 When we arrived at CNIB, we were greeted by three staff and one guide dog.  Jack, a visually impaired staff member, guided us through the camp with his dog and his sense of hearing.  Remarkably, Jack knew that we were near a firepit because he “heard the sound of a tree” that he knew was beside the pit!  This awareness of the strength of all our senses was an awesome thing to experience. Surprisingly, Jack wouldn’t tell us his guide dog’s name because he explained that it is incredibly difficult for guide dogs to work when people are calling their names. 

 As the tour continued, different features of the camp were pointed out that are in place to help familiarize the visually impaired with the camp site. For example, we were shown the different markers along the hand rails that indicated a path, the different angles the railings were positioned along with what they meant and various beepers and other devices around CNIB that help their clients and volunteers to navigate the property safely and with relative ease.

 The LITs were impressed with the size of the camp, the variety of activities offered and the independence the participants were granted. While at  CNIB, the LITs took part in a descriptive drawing exercise. Sitting back-to-back in pairs, one partner drew a picture on a piece of paper, then using descriptive language they explained the drawing so that their partner could reproduce it. It was a great exercise for using descriptive language and active listening.

 After this exercise the LITs led games and hosted events for CNIB clients.  They broke up into six groups and ran ladder golf, bocce ball, shuffle board, horseshoes, mini putt and music games.  All of the various activities being run were adapted for people with visual impairments.  Interestingly, while waiting for participants to join them, one group played a pick-up game of basketball. Someone noticed that the ball had metal inside that would clang, indicating to someone without sight where the ball was. These small modifications allowed our own campers to understand how small changes can make all the difference to those with disabilities. They learned how easy it can be to change the impossible into the possible.

 Our trip to the Lake Joe Camp of the CNIB was a great success.  The LITs were so excited to meet new friends and in return, the CNIB staff and participants were thrilled to have Manitou LITs taking part in activities with them and appreciating the challenges of the visually impaired.  We look forward to going back to CNIB in early August with another group of LITs.